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Marketing and Comms
Conceptual Water Company's Bottles Are as Empty as California's Reservoirs

Designer Chris Onesto created California Water Company to highlight the state’s historic drought. The company’s water bottles are only about 6 percent full, to reflect the current capacity of California water reservoirs.

“The Golden State is turning a toasty golden brown all thanks to a record drought,” reads the project’s website. “Oddly enough Southern Californians could care less. In response I created the California Water Company, bottled water that moves the drought from a startling thought into a disturbing reality.”

Although only a concept, Onesto created an entire marketing campaign as if it was a real brand launch. Mock-ups of the bottle design, billboards, and other advertisements can be found on his website. The designs use sarcasm and sharp wit to convey the message that Californians need to learn more about the drought and urge the state to take more aggressive steps to drought relief (speaking of which, all proceeds from the imaginary product go toward drought relief, according to a note on the back of the bottle). Slogans include “I’m still thirsty,” “We saved the best for last,” and “Going, going, gone.”

California Water Company ad

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The bottle draws direct attention to the state’s lack of action on drought relief. “Despite suffering from a severe drought, California has done little in response,” it reads. “Turns out the state’s reaction to crisis is as laid back as their lifestyle.”

Unfortunately, California’s situation has not been improving and climate impacts are only becoming more severe. California’s total precipitation in 2015 fell within the bounds of natural variability, but winter temperatures were among the highest ever recorded, and the Sierra Nevada snowpack reached a 500-year low. Consumer campaigns have emerged, some companies are taking action and Los Angeles is using shade balls to protect the surface of its reservoir, but as Onesto’s California Water Company project points out, more Californians need to get involved if their water reservoirs are to last.


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